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Field Tour Gave International Traders an Eye-Opening Look at Alberta’s Pulse Industry (PCN Fall 2015) OCT 1 2015 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Many international pulse traders were eager to cap off the Canadian Special Crops Association Conference in Calgary by getting out into the fields for a crop tour.

“The comments and gratitude that I received from all of the tour participants really made the experience worthwhile,” said Doug Sell, the Third Member of the Alberta Pulse Growers Executive who helped organize the tour. “From people who had never been in a field before, to people asking ‘what are these big yellow machines’ and watching people measure themselves against tires that made them look small, they were very grateful for the experience.”

Sell and his farming partner Barry Grabo welcomed the group of more than 40 guests to view their dry pea and lentil crops near Beiseker as part of the June 24 tour. Delegates were also invited to view an impressive display of farm equipment.

“There were traders here in the field for the tour that have been trading peas and lentils for a while, but had never seen them growing,” Grabo remarked. “In fact, they had no idea what either of the plants even looked like until the tour. There were several comments about how wide open the countryside was, how far you could see, and is your closest neighbor really that far away. It certainly was worth the effort if we educated some people as to how we produce food and what is involved in that job.”

APG’s Zone 2 members had originally planned the tour to take place in conjunction with the conference in 2013, but that year’s catastrophic floods forced the event to be cancelled.

This year’s tour included participants from Pakistan, India, Turkey, Singapore, Panama, China, the United States and Canada.

The tour began at the Viterra grain elevator at Crossfield, followed by lunch and a video from Jay Schultz about his farm’s 2014 growing season, tours of the pea and lentil crops, and culminated in a tour of the Graham Dam Irrigation Site.

“I am interested in the technology and methods Canadian farmers use to grow and harvest crops,” said tour participant Sam Huo, an intern at a Chinese trading company who is currently attending the University of Philadelphia. “They use advanced technology to increase efficiency.”

Luz Stella Piedrahita of Prime Seeds International Inc. in North Vancouver was impressed by the scale of the Viterra elevator.

“We are traders so we wanted to make sure that we saw the process as lots of people ask us about it,” she said. “This is one of the larger (elevators) that we have seen. It was a great conference. It’s great to get together and make connections.”

Manas Banerjee, CEO of XiteBio Technologies Inc. of Winnipeg, was interested to see how producers present his industry to the world.

“We are the manufacturers of biologicals,” he said. “These are basically traders here, and I wanted to see how the farmers show the inoculants that we produce.”

Mark Olson, Unit Head of Pulse Crops with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, led the discussion at the crop tour sites, and was impressed with the tour and how well it showcased Alberta’s pulse industry.

“The most common question I was asked by traders was about buying pulses directly from farmers,” he recalled. “I don’t think many of the buyers really understood the complexity of the business or moving grain in Western Canada. It’s always great to get together with the APG zone members, as well as meet a ton of new people.”